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The Great American Work-Around



I recently received a comment to a post from David Silverman on Facebook, which allows comments.  His comment and my reply can be seen below.

“hmmm. Biden family baggage? Sure. I’m remembering Carter’s brother trying to influence peddle in Libya and the long string of Bush family payola, notably Silverado S&L, which I think still ranks as the number three or four top swindles in US history ( But who’s counting). Michael Caporale? You’re someone I trust on that story. Any thoughts? If Biden’s in the hotseat, then the graft of Trump & family are burning the neighborhood down. More interesting your comment on DNC and the possibilities of “management reform.” I’ve danced with this one with several parties over the years, notably the Dems, on platform and delegate accountability, institutional capture, etc. Within and acknowledging the many limits of bourgeois parties, what’s your fav reform strategy?

David, sorry, but my thoughts on the Bush family and the S&L debacle are not much different than my thoughts on Hillary getting $650,000 for a speech to Wall Street bankers that encouraged the subsequent fraudulent selling of bundled bad mortgage securities resulting in Chase settling the federal lawsuit to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.  Once you take their money, by hook or by crook, you’re bought and paid for.  Trump et family are just the latest bloated progeny of an electorate addicted to a diet of “fast food” policies.  This nation is far overdue for “management reform.”  The question is, “can the Dems see it clearly enough to avoid the inevitable train wreck, and how can they (or anyone for that matter) sell it to an audience that feeds on instant gratification without self- destructing their party in the process?”

We live in a society that has mastered the art of the “work-around.”  I remember when Carter instituted policy that put financial pressure on states to lower their speed limits to 55mph from 70mph, 75mph and in the case of states like free-wheeling Nevada and freedom-loving Montana, even more.  Americans, ever resourceful, retaliated with Fuzz-busters, CB radios, laser-detectors and radar-jammers.  Car stereos up and down the interstates resounded with the validating anthem of Sammy Hagar’s musical diatribe “I Can’t Drive Fifty-Five” while timid nursing-home candidates and those who could not otherwise afford the price of the new tech-rebellion or the cost of a speeding ticket and the subsequent rise in their automobile insurance, dutifully followed the insufferable speed limit, adding three and a half hours to a 700 mile holiday vacation trip, and instituted yet another work-around, hopped up on prescription diet pills (AKA speed) to avoid falling asleep at the wheel and killing young junior, his sister and the family pet, while navigator Mom snoozed comfortably during the final four hours, this being just a little too soon for women to have taken their full and rightful place in the “family values” society.

I am flattered that you have asked for my comments, but I’m not sure I have any realistic answers, so just regard this as an attempt to start the conversation, but it’s worth a preliminary try.

First, we have to recognize that money is the great political un-equalizer. Wall Street, America’s corporations and bankers, and their CEO’s, all the millionaires and billionaires, donate to political parties and candidates for the express purpose of buying influence indirectly, implicitly threatening the withdrawal of future support should policy not swing their way.  In order to insure the efficacy of this tactic, it is customary practice to hedge bets by donating to both of the opposing sides in an election, leaving non-conforming candidates like Bernie Sanders to struggle with “five-and-dime” pocket change donations with no implied strings attached, while betraying their amoral motives. Without doubt, this has to be the first whistle-stop on the reformation train.

My solution would be to change campaign finance laws such that  all donations, large and small go into an electoral pool and the proceeds would be divided equally between the two major parties. From there, each party would be responsible for the disposition of the funds, advertising buys and such, and distribution to every party candidate for national office, allowing them to apply emphasis by favoring some and denying others, thus insuring a more uniform party-platform and weeding out repugnant miscreants and other aberrations like Donald Trump.

Now I recognize that this is also very problematic, as it encourages group thought and limits evolution from emerging social movements and trends in the electorate championed by a brave few, such as “The Squad,” or other  “Socialistic heretics” like Elizabeth Warren.  Each party would have to submit a plan for how to reconcile this issue to qualify for their share of the funding. Funding cannot be used to squash legitimate dissent and fresh ideas, but could and should be used to limit exposure to candidates advocating racist, anti-Semetic and misogynistic policies.

Next, and here’s the big one—we have to change the way lobbying is done.  My solution is going to be considered radical, but it stems from the realization that we have an important body unrepresented in congress, thus infecting all 50 states in the process. It is without its own specific representation.  It is the corporate state. 

My solution would be to grant it “honorary statehood,” entitling it to two senators and two representatives.  Corporate lobbyists would be limited to only lobbying their representatives, insuring that they have a voice and a vote in each of the houses.  The various corporate congressmen would be chosen in a separate election by qualifying corporations.  All other lobbyists would have to qualify for a legitimate social or policy cause to advocate and would be allowed to lobby all senators and representatives. The specific corporate Senators and Representatives would therefore be the ones to carry the corporate message to the other congressional members and invite debate and discussion without overwhelming influence peddling.

Next is term limits.  It’s a complicated issue and has to be done.  We all know the pros and cons.  It takes a while for a new congressperson to learn the system, and once they have mastered it, their value to their constituents increases. Nevertheless, fresh blood and new ideas must be encouraged.  Twenty or thirty years should be plenty, and then off into retirement like anybody else.

The process of getting on a committee and rising to the position of the chair is currently based on a congressman’s ability to fundraise. So here’s another advantage to the “electoral pool of funds” idea to be realized.  There would be no need for them to devote inordinate amounts of time to fundraising rather than doing the nation’s business full-time creating legislation.

Next, the Supreme Court.  I don’t advocate stuffing the court, but I do advocate balance.  To the degree that balance must be restored, I would support adding a second Supreme Court of nine candidates.  With the potential caseload, considering all the cases that are never heard, justice is not well served with just one court.  This new court would have term limits of thirty years and would have four judges picked by each party and the ninth judge, the swing vote,  approved by both.  Each court would have the option to take cases from the available applicants made on a rotational basis.

The whole lifetime appointment thing is troubling.  It makes the institution, as it is, perpetual and thus unable to evolve with societal needs. My solution to insert a step into the application process that could withhold cases, eventually reducing them to zero, thus grinding the activity of the current court to a halt.  The unemployed judges could run for one of the seats in the new Supreme Court and ultimately as this court faded out, the new “second court could be established.”  Nevertheless, there should always be at least two courts.

As far as the President is concerned, clearly it is time to abolish the electoral college.  It would normally take a constitutional amendment, but in that long held tradition of American work-arounds, there is currently a creative solution. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, whereby the signatory states to the agreement agree to award all their electoral college votes to the winner on the nation popular vote.  Once there are at least 270 signatory states’ electoral votes in the compact the popular vote would determine the election, leaving the non-signed states to sit and wonder “what just happened?”

Lastly, gerrymandering needs to be eliminated and new rules for the drawing of congressional districts need to be determined.  Unfortunately, this is a state issue, but there surely must be some mechanism at the federal level that can determine what the states can do in an election for a federal position.

Surely there are a great many more problems to be addressed, but if we could accomplish this much, I think we might return to a more stable democracy.

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